There was a chance that the Bruins and Tuukka Rask would get together to work out a contract extension prior to the end of the regular season, but now that will have to happen after their playoff run is over. As it stands, the 26-year-old Finnish goaltender’s performance in the Stanley Cup playoffs will be a considerable factor in determining the final sum offered by the Bruins.
Rask, a restricted free agent, is already likely to be awarded an annual contract that amounts to something in between the six-year, $31.8 million handed out to Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard ($5,291,677 cap hit) and the six-year, $38 million pact ($6.5 million cap hit) handed out to Carey Price. It could be closer to one or the other depending on his individual performance for a Bruins team that’s limped into the playoffs with a 2-5-2 record in the final nine games of the regular season.
Rask’s last playoff performance was three years ago when he was the goalie at the helm as the Bruins collapsed against the Philadelphia Flyers. It’s important to him to bounce back the second time around.
Same goes for those in the Bruins front office.
“That goes without saying. You’re judged on your performance. That will apply to Tuukka [Rask]. That will apply to everyone who is up for an extension,” said Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli. “Tuukka is no different than the rest of them. He’s a restricted free agent this year, and after the season we’ll look at it and try to get him signed.”
Based on the regular season, Rask should be in for a considerable raise. He finished with a 19-10-5 record with a 2.00 goals against average and a .929 save percentage while also sharing the NHL lead with five shutouts.
“I think Tuukka has had a very good season. I think the team and him now feel comfortable and compatible, so I would expect him to have success,” said Chiarelli. “He’s a competitive kid and he’s got some experience under his belt. You can say the same about our team as a whole, so I expect there to be some success.”
Rask's game was dialed up a notch in the final month of the season after Anton Khudobin stopped 71-of-73 shots in back-to-back games at the beginning of April. Sine then, Rask has been on fire. Amazingly, he has had a .941 save percentage along with three shutouts in 11 games in April, but he still finished with only a 4-5-1 record for the month.
If those trends continue, it’s possible that Rask could have an excellent playoff performance this spring, and the Bruins still could be an early playoff casualty if they continue to show difficulty finishing off plays in the attack zone.
But either way, Rask has plenty of dollar bills coming his way courtesy of the Bruins once this abnormal 2013 season has finally come to a conclusion.